Thursday, 31 January 2013

Lochs of Setter, Fethaland

Taking advantage of the fine day we've had today I was up along some paths from Sandvoe towards Fethaland later this afternoon. Parking at Sandvoe I set off along the beach and the track that leads up past Benigarth, the cottage which Simon King briefly stayed in for his Shetland Diaries...




It's pretty easy going as you approach the Lower Loch of Setter...


The cliffs on the right of the loch were quite noisy with fulmars which was surprising...


With the low sun and the still day it was all rather lovely...


The track became a sheep gaet as I followed round the right hand side of the loch and up over a small burn to soon rejoin a farm track that leads you back up to the main track to Fethaland at the Upper Loch of Setter...


I need to do some investigating on the eastern side of the headland and out to the point, but for now with the sun getting low, the temperature dropping and a Beren to pick up from day care it was off back to the car.

Looking down over Sandvoe and North Roe as I headed back...


It's not much of a walk, nothing strenuous or far, but fantastic scenery. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Lerwick Up Helly Aa 2013

It started out a bit of a damp day for Stevie Grant as Guiser Jarl Gamle Eriksson and his Jarl squad, but regardless the band struck up and they began their day with the procession through the town. I saw them come past our offices into Toll Clock and their uniforms looked great.

Here's some footage of the days procession courtesy of The Shetland Times




Here are some more photos from the Shetland News of the day and night.

I was daft enough to arrange a meeting on the morning so I missed the procession through the street and the squad at the ferry terminal where I could have met Beren and his nursery, but I took the afternoon off to help my friend with his boat and got a few of the galley and bill and by that time it was a pretty fine day for January...

Krisara...



Great shield and caricature...


And I always love to see the galley head...


I did take a photo of the tail, but, well, it's just a tail, well made, but just a tail!

There were a good few people about even by this time looking at the bill and shop displays...



But the night procession is what I really love. As the time approached the wind began to build and the rain began to lash. Beren kept wanting to leave to get to Lerwick, but we kept putting him off. Who wants to stand in the wind and rain longer than necessary. When we did set of we thought  we must be mad, but on arriving there we obviously weren't the only ones. 

Standing under our favourite spot where the TV crew film we waited with water running of us, all the time persuading Beren to keep in our shelter, but with him taking no notice. We did worry that they'd be able to have all torches lit with the wind, but when the lights went off and we could see the glow up past the town hall we were looking forward to the torch lit procession.

I got practically no photos of the squad coming past due to the driving rain and hoped they'd come back again as usual so I could get some with the rain at my back but no such luck.

 So here's my few photos...


 

Then as if by magic after they started to go round to the park the rain eased and then stopped, by then Beren and Clare were soaked and cold sat on their high wall vantage point, but they braved the last while until the burning. If we had a flask and sarnies it would be like one of our usual picnics!

Squads amassed ready for the burning...


Three cheers for the Guiser Jarl...


Three cheers for Up Helly Aa...


And then they were off throwing the torches into her belly with sparks and flames flying...




We usually wait to see the galley burn right down, but this year we needed to get off with Beren being very cold, damp and tired. Anyway with the wind the aft of the galley was pretty untouched unlike everything down wind with sparks flying down the street past the houses as we walked back to the car.

 

We got home, put the kettle on and listened to the wind rise and the rain lash on the windows, but atleast it had come fair for the burning.

So now it's finger crossed for fair weather for the rest of the country Up Helly Aas!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Heylor, Ronas Voe...

It's been a bit of a rough day today with not the best forecast for Up Helly Aa tomorrow.  It did clear up for a few spells and I took this panorama of Ronas Voe from 'the blade' at Heylor after my lunch...


There was a Haaf Station here for herring fishing with remains of buildings, winches and this stone pier remaining...


I've kayaked and rowed out of here in the past and explored the caves and coves further along, but never made it from here round to Lang Ayre. The cliffs opposite the pier also have some climbs on them, though you'd need a boat to get across or have along walk round to them. My father-in-law kayaked over there a couple of years back to climb, but after all the effort to get there the midgies beat him off!

Anyway tomorrow is a big day. Not only Up Helly Aa, which you can watch from 7pm streamed live via Promote Shetland

The bigger event (yes even than UHA) is that my kayak buddy has got himself a yacht! He officially owns it from tomorrow dinner time, so we are meeting up to give it a clear out and start to get her shipshape for some fun this coming year. I'll not say more now, but it is a boat with a history and I'm sure I'll tell more once we get on top of her...

Saturday, 26 January 2013

A wander around the Ness of Setter, Lunna Ness

Although the day started off pretty grim and wet it was forecast to clear up in the afternoon and by 1pm the rain had stopped. I went up to Lunna and parked at the Kirk for a wander around The Ness of Setter to Boatsroom Voe with the hope of seeing some otters.

The tide was low and there were plenty of the usual shore birds along with a few oyster catchers and herons too.

Looking back to the Hunters Monument across West Lunna Voe...


With the low sun it was hard to see clearly on this first stretch of the walk, but it was great to be out for what is my first walk of any significance since early December.

There was more than enough of dead 'life'though, wit various birds, rabbits and the odd sheep remains.

I'm not quite sure what this is the skull of...


But I do know this poor birdy is a shag...



Sadly I found a couple more of these, no rings or anything on them, and this one had no obvious sign of death so I presume it is just the winter taking it's toll.

 As I walked around the coast I obviously got a bit sloppy in my observation so had the usual sight of an otter running off through the ebb stones and into the sea. I was a bit miffed at myself for that. I sat for a while just in case it returned or I could watch it at sea, but it didn't. Needless to say my concentration was renewed as I carried on around the coast.

Here's the view from Setter Ness across Hamna Voe to Outrabister and the end of Lunna Ness..


Thankfully my renewed efforts were rewarded as I saw a pair of otters just off shore. I sat and watched them for a while as they hunted and played and made their way to a bit of coast along from me.


When they went under I moved until I was near to the rocks they come out on. As usual I cursed my lack of a long lens (these are close crops), but I could see them fine mooching about and grooming each other...




They then moved it to a gully in the rocks and I saw my chance to get even closer. I carefully slid and clambered over the rocks as quietly as I could, stopping every now and again to check they hadn't gone back out some where else and finally found a gap in the rocks to spy on them.

They were all cosied up and grooming each other. Annoyingly I struggled to get my camera to focus on them so this is the only photo I got of them at close range...


I later realised I still had the focus set to wide area from something I'd be doing the other day so it kept catching the rocks in the narrow gap and focussing on them! Lesson learnt. I still enjoyed seeing them so close and only left because it was getting on by then and I still had a way back to the car.

As I put the camera away and headed back the full moon was rising over Lunna Ness and bright orange from the reflected sunset, so I took it back out to take this quick high ISO panorama over Boatsroom Voe...


And that was that, first walk of the year with only a handful of coughing fits and the sighting of three otters, two of them super close!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Out west; The Quilse

 It's been back to icy blue skies and some wonderful views with frozen lochs and voes today. I was heading out west and stopped at Whiteness for some supplies and just had to take a photo of the Loch of Strom while I was there...


I had a few things to look at near Walls, one of which was some access at a place called The Quilse, and odd name and I've no idea where it comes from. Anyway on a day like today the views out over Vaila to Foula and back east were fantastic from there.

A pretty frozen lochan I passed on the way up from the car looked wonderful with the burst of cloud behind it...


The view from the top over Vaila Sound and out to Foula was pretty amazing...


And looking back over the remains of a chambered cairn on The Quilse across Gruting Voe towards the east wasn't to be sniffed at either...


But I think the view over the water at Walls stole the show...


What a stupendously gorgeous day to be out in!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A few black and whites...

After a while of bright sunny cold days we've had a few cloudy over cast days lately. Still icy, but little in the way of snow other than a dusting at times. Still there have been some great skies and plenty of crepuscular rays. I was out at Westerwick the other day and they were amazing, but it was very windy and I didn't have chance to take any photos.

Here's some rays peeping out over Fladdabister and Ocraquoys though...


I know turbines are a touchy subject, but I like the Burradale ones and don't find them an intrusion in the landscape at all.  Though I'm not so sure about the large scale Viking Energy Scheme.



And finally a few photos of the falls at Catfirth. I'm hoping to be able to get out with out the risk of toothache at the weekend and get some photos of the Burn of Gonfirth, particularly if the icy weather holds. In the meantime the falls at Catfirth had some icicles and skeens of ice, nothing dramatic but they looked nice with the low waterflow...








Sunday, 20 January 2013

Beren and Earl at play...

It's been another quiet weekend. My cough is improving, but to add to my poor start to the year I had to have a tooth out on Wednesday afternoon. I broke a molar that had already been root canalled on a sucky sweet that I forgot to suck, which left me with no filling in it and a wobbly painful bit. There was really no option but for it to come out, though it obviously didn't want to, the dentist won eventually though. It's not had the last word though I've been back to sleepless nights and any time out in the cold starts it yapping at me.

Not like Earl who's a good doggy and does very little yapping!


He'll be 9 weeks tomorrow and seems to know just how cute he is...



He's restricted to the garden until he's had all his jabs, but him and Beren have been having some great fun out there..








 Earl had some great  fun yesterday too when my friend brought his super shaggy cocker spaniel Ted round to play. Hopefully in another 4 weeks they'll be able to get out on some walks together, gives me some time to get myself back in the land of the living too!